The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect



I have an uncle that’s a hillbilly. Seriously. He lives out in the middle of nowhere on a hill. He and his wife came to Thanksgiving this year. Uncle Hillbilly is the baby brother of my mom. He’s eleven years younger than my mom, the same age difference between my daughter and her baby brother. This little fact causes my mom to say things like,”Poor Ellen, I know just how she feels having to take care of her baby brother while her mom is sick and not able to cope with life.”   Then I have to remind my mom that I’m quite healthy and Ellen is at school all day, not caring for anyone. Still, every time I ask Ellen to do something for her little brother when Mom is around they give each other a knowing glance that will forever bond them together as “The Oldest Children Deprived of Happiness.”
Uncle Hillbilly has defeated death 8.95 times.  He’s a ticking time bomb.  He’s been in three horrible automobile accidents, he’s had cancer in which he had a kidney removed, he’s broken countless bones and he’s been in the army.  Any of these incidents would have been the demise of a less stellar human being. 
His little, itty-bitty, blond headed, wife is a hoot.  Her choice of vehicle is a Harley Davidson with a side car painted bright pink…..I mean Pink Panther Pink.  She used to live in my town and is an avid auction attendee.  She told me of a town not far from here with a large Amish community that has a weekly auction.  Every Tuesday morning they auction baked goods, produce, eggs, livestock, farm equipment, quilts and apparently a lot of stuff that I should not be living without, so I’ll be making that trip sometime soon, I hope.  

Now, about the puzzle.  Charles Wysocki has been my choice of puzzle art for the past several years.  I buy them at Target every winter and the puzzles I choose usually have an old town scene.  We love to have a puzzle going whenever my folks are visiting during the holidays.  It’s fun for everyone to go sit, talk and put a puzzle together.  Often we find ourselves fighting over who gets to do the barn or the cute house or the horses.  Sometimes my little boy will walk off with a piece that will cause us to search the table endlessly for something that is actually wedged between the couch cushions.  My kids always want to place the last piece.  This year I had to count to three, several times before they would place their piece in to finish the gall-darn puzzle.  They were so afraid that they wouldn’t get to put them in at the same time, so they kept faking to put the pieces in.  Then I had to count to ten so I wouldn’t bash their heads together.  Okay, the part when I said it’s fun, forget that, putting a puzzle together is an exercise in self-control.  

tossing my cookies

Monday’s are my day to pick up my daughter, my son and another little boy from school. After I pick them up I take my daughter to basketball practice which is fifteen minutes from school and fifteen to twenty minutes from home. My son and the other little boy sit in the back seat and play very well together, but they’re loud. Like little shrieking hyenas. They come up with little games to keep them occupied, but all the games incorporate loud shrieking and most always farting noises.

I decided to get smart so, I grabbed a bunch of leftover suckers from our Halloween stash. My thought was to let the boys eat suckers in an attempt to keep their little pie holes quiet during the long trip home. I also grabbed a bag of tortilla chips and dried cherries for myself.

I was happily enjoying my snack on my way to school. I didn’t have anyone in the car to share with, which is rare, so I had the bag of tortilla chips between my legs and the bag of dried cherries on the passenger seat and I alternated between both bags happy to satiate my need for salt and sweet. Then I caught a glimpse of an old man in the lane next to me, as his car passed I could clearly see a giant wad of white gauze stuck in his left nostril. Hmm, that’s not really something I want to see when I’m enjoying a snack.

I overcame my thoughts of boogers, clotting nose blood and nose hair and continued on down the road still grabbing handfuls of chips, but slowing down on the cherries, because now I was very aware of the texture of the soft slimy fruit in my mouth. I was sitting at a stoplight when a man pulled in front of me in the next lane. I was looking at his small Ford Festiva wondering if it had seats in the back when he abrupty opened his driver’s side door and puked on the road. He paused a moment and let some mucus drain out of his nose then shut his door and promptly blew his nose. Oh, dear. I was paralyzed with a hand full of chips half way to my already full mouth. I slowly put the chips back in the bag, forced myself to swallow what was now a mouth full of warm, wet, corn mush and decided I wasn’t very hungry and might not be for several days.

When I finally arrived at school the grotesque sights I had witnessed were starting to fade so I handed out suckers and let my daughter finish off the corn chips. The suckers worked quite well, although the boys couldn’t stop whacking each other with their backpacks, at least they weren’t making any sound effects to accompany their actions.

I dropped my daughter off at practice and headed home. The drive was peaceful especially since I continued to pass suckers back to the boys. The van now smelled like sweet cherries and I decided I would help myself to a sucker when I witnessed the man driving the truck in front of me pull over into the turn lane quickly open his door and spit out the contents of whatever he had in his mouth. Okay. No sucker for me. Man, talk about an excellent way to control your appetite.


Have you all met my dad? He’s good at a lot of things.  He retired six years ago and started bicycling all over the USA.  He never had a passion for exercise or cycling before, but he didn’t want to sit around and get fat, so he started riding a bike.  He has the most awesome muscular legs.  He’s 64 years old and in great shape.

He’s very organized and likes things to be done certain ways.  I got my “no-tolerance for a dirty vehicle” attitude from him.  Dad is a great house guest, because he hates messes and cleans up after himself.  He also hates to loose things so he keeps all his luggage neatly stored in a corner of a bedroom.  I hardly notice he’s in my house.  

He’s also very frugal.  He doesn’t spend money on unnecessary items.  Especially clothes.  That sweatshirt he’s wearing I bought for him at least eight years ago.  I also noticed him wearing a long sleeved polo that I gave to him when I was in college.  The thing still looks new.  He has these brown leather ankle boots that he wears to church that I swear he’s had since I was in grade school.  He’s owned them so long that they’re back in style again.  I don’t know how he does it.

His choice of mop is two little boys.  He can clean the floor, exercise and play with his grandsons all while listening to a football game.  The best part?  It didn’t cost him a dime.  He’s a great broompa, I mean grandpa.